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£24m technology prize to transform future of city

TRAVELLERS will be able to get real-time information and mobile-phone apps letting them know how fast traffic is moving and if buses are on time in Glasgow after it won £24 million to become a city of the future.

The travel initiative is among a host of ideas proposed to put cutting-edge technology at the public's fingertips after the UK Government investment award revealed in The Herald.

Glasgow City Council will also create an app for reporting issues such as potholes and missed bin collections.

Other possible services include linking up the city-wide CCTV with its traffic management unit to identify accidents faster.

Technology could also be used to improve crime prevention and detection and cut anti-social behaviour, while promoting healthy living.

Science Minister David Willetts said it will turn Glasgow into "a model of what a future city could look like and how it could run".

The technologies are also to be tried out in Birmingham, Sunderland and London, with the hope of rolling them out across the UK and globally.

Mr Willetts said: "Where Glasgow leads, the rest of the country follows, and I think the rest of the world follows. This is about what is going to happen in Sao Paulo and Lagos. These are export opportunities."

Glasgow won the funding after beating off other UK cities to become a "large-scale demonstrator" of future technologies for urban living.

The aim is for Glasgow to develop a one-stop "City Dashboard" similar to those seen on computers to monitor systems from traffic lights and CCTV to air-quality testing and street lighting. Hospital waiting times will available for the public to check.

Residents could take photographs of potholes, broken playpark equipment or street lights and report them electronically to the council, which would be able to identify the location from the GPS data included.

The council said it would improve management of Glasgow's community transport, such as welfare buses, through electronic scheduling of requests from residents, and make city buildings more energy-efficient.

Electronic monitoring would allow the city to store energy when demand is low and then use it during times when it is higher while creating the potential to cut residents' fuel bills, help the city against fuel poverty and give people access to affordable warmth.

Footfall could be checked to see which shopping areas are doing well and where more support is needed, a move which would allow shoppers to plan ahead and avoid areas which are particularly busy.

The £24m was offered by the Technology Strategy Board, a body set up by the Government in 2007 to stimulate technology-enabled innovation.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "Generations of talented Scots have helped cement Glasgow's global reputation for innovation and creativity, and I am delighted the city has won its bid to secure the £24m Future Cities demonstrator."

The council and key public, private and academic organisations, including Strathclyde University, will run a demonstration of the project over 18 months.

Results will be made available to innovative UK businesses and, it is hoped, will assist them in testing and developing new technologies that can be sold around the world.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal of Strathclyde University, said: "This will allow academic and business and industry researchers to analyse more than 200 information feeds about Glasgow – its health, economy, transport and energy use – to map the relationships between them and to understand how a 21st-century city operates."

Council leader Gordon Matheson said: "Winning this money will put us years ahead of other UK cities in terms of integrating our technological systems."

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